By Wally Richards
INDEX of Subjects.
Do I Breed?
Using a Sire from another breeder
Agreement for stud services
Registration of the litter
Summary of costs
Whelping or Birth time.
What you need for whelping
Labour and Birth
Bringing up a litter of puppies to 7 weeks of age.
If you own a female Shar-Pei or a pair, you may at some stage think it would be a nice thing to have a litter.
Likely it would be a nice thing but you should weigh up all the pro's and cons before allowing your pair to breed.
The questions that come to mind should include,
· Why do I want to breed a litter?
· Will my breeding do anything to improve the breed?
· Are my pair worth breeding?
· Can I find homes for the puppies and how many can I home before I start?
· Can I afford to breed a litter? (Cost of a normal litter of 6 puppies without any complications or sire fee is about $1200.00.)
· Can I give my bitch my total attention for about 48 hours while she is whelping?
· Can I give the litter my attention as required for 24 hours a day for a period of up to 10 weeks?
These are the primary considerations and unless you can answer each one in a positive manner, you should not take the matter any further. If you have a pair of Shar-Pei or a Shar-Pei Bitch you should ether Spray her or when she comes into heat have her injected to take her off heat. You can have a series of these injections which your vet can advise on, to keep your bitch from having a heat. If you stop the injections, then after a period of time the bitch will start her cycles again.
If you have no intention of breeding then your bitch should be sprayed at the earliest opportunity and it is believed that this will also reduce the possibility of cancer later in the bitches life.
If you decide that you want to breed then the following are my own experiences after having 12 odd litters during the past 8 years.
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you should know her cycles and keep a record of each time she has a heat (whether you breed or not).
Keep a record of her weight and record her weight every month. The simple way is to weigh yourself and then pick up the bitch and weigh her.
It is also a sensible thing to do; have your Vet run a health check over your bitch prior to mating to confirm that she is in top health and condition.
The bitch should definitely be over 12 months old and ideally over 14 months of age. (the age when it is agreed that the Shar-Pei are fully mature)
This is about the equivalent of a 20 to 25 year old human female.
I have had bitches that would not allow a male to mount them till they were over 2 years old. If this is the case then the bitch likely knows its own body better than you do or your vet.
If the bitch has reached about 3 years of age and will still not allow a male to mount her then it would pay to have her artificially inseminated. I have found that this procedure really needs to be done by an expert in this field and one that works with frozen as well as fresh semen.
I have had my vets perform this function and in every case it was a waste of time and money.
The best results always comes from a natural tie.
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here we do not need to worry to the same degree, the current health and fitness of the male but should remember that his best sperm count will be in the winter-spring period.
He should have excellent overall health, have no problems that could be passed onto the puppies, ideally be a dog that has been shown and done well in the ring. If he is a Champion all the better.
If you own the dog yourself you will be biased in his favour but if you don't own the dog you will likely be more selective in your choice of the sire.
It appears that various breeders like to place opposites together, bone head to a meat mouth, brush coat to a horse coat etc. The genes are an interesting topic and certainly have the deciding factor on the litter that is produced
But reading the genes and predicting the virtues or faults of a litter is quiet beyond my abilities.
From my own experience you can select to improve aspects but the results are likely to be very different when the litter is on the ground.
You can place the same pair together and have two different results from two separate litters. If for instance you have a litter from a pair and they produce a 'flowered' puppy (like spot) you can repeat the breeding several times and never ever get another flowered pup.
Colours also are in the lucky dip basket, though you maybe aware of what your dominant colour will be.
Selection of good breeding pairs is a thing that is gained from years of breeding and the longer you are involved the more likely you will be able to guess the end results and produce better litters.
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USING A SIRE FROM ANOTHER BREEDER
When using a Sire owned by another breeder you will be charged a fee which may involve a cash payment or for the Sire's owner to have the pick of the litter.
The later is likely to appeal to the Bitch's owner but is the less satisfactory for all parties.
I say this as often you will have people that are looking for a puppy and they will view the pups in the early days after whelping, making their minds up on which puppy they would prefer. Of course you must wait till the sire's owner makes their choice before you can commit the puppies. As the sire's owner may not wish to choose till the pups are over 4 weeks of age it can mean you lose sales.
Thus a fee, paid up front prior to a mating , will keep everything in a good business manner for all parties.
A contract should be entered into which states the fee or terms, the number of ties required (normally two) and a guarantee that the mating will result in a minimum of two live puppies at say 4 weeks of age.
If the two puppies do not eventuate then a free repeat mating will be done at some time in the future.
This ensures that the bitch's owner will not be out of pocket too much if one or no puppies are whelped.
Here is a sample of the contract that I use:
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Agreement For Stud Services
Between HongMing Kennels; Wally Richards, (079974) and
For the use of the Sire, Zen Registered as HongMing Chitou-TeTe Leiting
NZKC No. 06819-1999
Over the Dam,
.. NZKC No.
It is agreed by both parties and the respective Kennels that;
A mating takes place on the Sire's premises (or other suitable location for the Sire's owner) on
A further mating takes place on
.(If required by Dams owner)
The Dam's owner will be responsible for all costs involving the mating, vet checks, whelping, litter notification to the NZ Kennel Club, Registration of all the puppies with the NZ Kennel Club (if required), Vets fees in Tacking eyes, (If required) the costs of vaccinations at 6 weeks, the cost of transfer papers to the new owners and any other costs involved.
The Dam's owner will contact the Sire's owner within 48 hours of whelping giving details of the number of puppies born, sex and colours.
The Fee for this stud service will be $
Payment (Delete which ever is not applicable)
This will be paid prior to the stud service for the first time.
Or The fee of $
will be paid by the following arrangement
The above will be considered a completed arrangement provided that there are 2 or more live puppies whelped and at 4 weeks of age.
If there is only one live puppy at 4 weeks then the Sires owner will provide the same stud dog or another suitable stud dog for a future mating at the Sire's residence free of charge.
If the above second mating takes place all expenses will be at the cost of the Dam's owner as previously mentioned.
Any other future mating would be under a new agreement between the parties.
Signed by Wally Richards of HONGMING KENNELS
Date of this agreement
It is an un-written rule that the bitch will always visit the sire for a mating and this is to ensure that the sire's owners are placed at the least amount of inconvenience as possible.
If the sire is not proven (has not tied before) a problem can arise, or if the bitch is reluctant to allow the male to mount, then artificial insemination may have to be considered.
If this is the case a suitable arrangement would have to be made with all parties.
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REGISTRATION OF LITTER
I bring this point in here as it must be considered before breeding and it's a bit late to consider after you have pups on the ground.
If you wish to register the future litter with the NZ Kennel Club and have papers for the pups then you need to have the following.
· Member of your local Kennel Club or one of the breed clubs in NZ.
· Member of the NZKC
· Registered Kennel with the NZKC
· The bitch must be registered with the NZKC and you must either be the owner of the registration, or have the permission of the Registered owner to breed and they are agreeable to sign any papers for notification and registrations under their kennel name.
· The Sire must be registered with the NZKC and the sire's owner in agreement to signing any papers required for registration and notification of the litter.
If you are not a member of a kennel club, the NZKC or do not have a registered kennel and the breeder you purchased the bitch from agrees, you can lease the bitch to the breeder and have the litter under their kennel name.
NOTE: The registration of a pup from the breeder to the future owner through the NZKC allows for several clauses such as pet only, or not to be bred or shown etc.
If you do not want the pups registered and wish to sell them only as pets then the above is not required but the preferred method as it keeps things in order and reduces future possibilities of unwanted dogs. The pup can be sold with the original papers with whatever restrictions applied by the breeder and agreed by the buyer.
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When a bitch begins her heat the first signs will likely be, mood change, swelling of the Vulva and spotting of blood. It is important to note the first day of spotting as this will help determine several factors.
If you are not mating the bitch, you can have a vet give her an injection to take her off heat, this should be done within 24 hours of the first spotting.
Note, I have found that the injection may effect some bitch's immune systems resulting in Demodex mange.
The injection will likely throw cycles out of kilter for a period of time.
The bitch will be ready to mate when ovulation occurs, this is some time after the first signs of spotting and is given a different time span in just about every book I read. Obviously the Shar-Pei have their own book and each bitch her own personal chapter.
While some will mate earlier, the average seems to be between the 12th and 17th day of the heat cycle. Some are referred to as late breeders and not ovulating until after 17 days and litters have been recorded after only one breeding on the 26th day of a heat cycle.
If you have a male on hand running with the bitch you will have about the best indicator on breeding time.
Initially the male will only be slightly interested at the time of the first show and over the next few days.
He may then lose interest completely and it's the female that is playing up to him, mounting him etc.
As ovulation time approaches the male starts to show a lot more interest only to find the bitch has changed and is not so interested. She knows when the key time is and will generally not allow the male to mount till this time. She may how ever tease him to keep his interest.
When the time is right the bitch will stand and flag. This means that she will allow the male to mount her and stand for him to do so and her tail will moved to one side (Flag) Some bitches will stand but not flag showing that they are still teasing.
If you separate the male from the bitch at this time (because you don't want them to mate) then you will find you have one very upset male and over the next few days, if he can smell the bitch, a frantic, crying male till the cycle is finished.
If you allow them to mate then you should achieve an effective tie. This is the state that occurs after intercourse has taken place and the male's penis has swollen to such a size while in the vagina, that it will not
exit. The male and the female end up facing in opposite directions, the Tie. If they don't end up in this position then you should assist them into it by turning the male and swinging one of his legs over the bitch.
You may need to comfort a novice dog or bitch at this time to prevent them from trying to pull apart and injuring each other. The tie lasts for some 20 minuets and is about the longest 20 minuets in your life if you are holding and comforting the pair.
The Tie is a very important part of a successful mating and should always be allowed to run its natural course.
If you have the pair running together they will mate and tie as they deem fit over the next few days and usually about every 24 hours till the bitch refuses.
I would suggest not to let them run free away from your section during this time as you will likely find them mating somewhere in public. Of course it is also important that the bitch is not allowed to associate with any other male dogs during this time and she is secure in her home.
If you do not have the male running with the bitch then it's a matter of visiting every day till a tie is achieved and then repeating every 24 or 48 hours till no further ties are to be had.
If visiting is difficult then you would need to consult a vet, have blood tests done to determine when the bitch is ready. These tests are very accurate and will allow you to make an informed decision.
I have experienced a bitch who has a show one day and has a tie within 2-3 days later, where others have been about 7 to 10 days before a tie and others about 14 days plus.
The male sperm lasts for 48 hours or more in the uterus so it is not so critical but a larger litter will likely be the result of several successful ties rather than one. The bitch is producing eggs over several days and the more of these that are fertilised the bigger the litter.
The size of the litter is also dependant on the bitch and a rule of thumb is if she came from a large litter she will likely throw a larger number of puppies. Likewise in she came from a small litter the same will likely apply.
Small litters range from 1 to 3. Medium size litters 4 or 5 and large litters 6 plus.
A litter of 4 to 6 pups is nice as it costs similar to have one pup as it does to have five. The more pups though, the more stress on the bitch as they grow up and their food demands increase.
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Here is a summary of expenses from a litter of 6 pups with no extra ordinary costs:
Reg NZKC $210.00 (includes transfers to new owners)
Adverts to sell $291.88
Medication, worming etc $69.15
Puppy foods $169.95
Photos, new owners kits and misc expenses $60.00
Total $1172.98 and all these puppies were off to their new owners within 8 weeks.
If you had them longer you have additional food costs and the next vaccination.
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After a successful tie or two its just a matter of waiting for a month or so to have an indication that the bitch is pregnant. The gestation period is about 63 days from tying.
Early signs will be; possible morning sickness, enlarging of nipples and her being more affectionate towards you. (Mind you , all bitches will have some mammillary development following a heat cycle.)
You can also have a false or pseudo pregnancy and this can fool both you and the bitch in that she will enlarge, gain weight, nipples will swell and milk will flow and right up until the time for delivery and then nothing.
You can do two things to check, at 30 days (from tying) have your vet check the paps and if there are pups the vet should be able to feel them as they are about the size of golf balls.
In a big bitch this may be difficult to do and I have had instances where a confirmation is made and no pups born and also had the vet say that they are 90% certain no pups, only to have a litter of six 33 days later.
Its only an indication.
At one week prior to the expected birth date you can have an x-ray done and this will show the skeletons of the puppies.
It will give you and indication of how many pups can be expected and likely if there are 4 plus skeletons showing add one or two more for the final tally.
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As we approach the time for our bitch to whelp it becomes a very worrying time.
There are several indications that she is getting ready to birth and many of these will start a week or more before the due date. She will seek out corners or spots which she thinks would be a good place and spend several minuets scratching away in that area trying to make herself a nest.
Her eating will increase and one should remember that she needs plenty of good food in the last week or so but to spread the food over the day by giving her two or three smaller meals.
From day 55 (with the first day been back at tie time) it is a good idea to take the bitch's temperature morning and night and record the same.
The average temperature should be about 101 to 102 degrees F.
During the last few days before delivery will be subnormal at about 100.2 to 100.8 degrees F. The temperature may drop below 100 to rise again slightly and when its about 24 hours to delivery time the temperature will normally drop to below 98 degrees.
About 12 to 24 hours before delivery there is normally a loss of appetite and for me that is one of the sure signs delivery is getting near.
You should contact your vet a few days before delivery to obtain an emergency phone number in case your vet is needed after hours.
I get in touch with my vet by phone when the 24 hours time is indicated, so that they are ready to be on hand in needed.
It is also time to ensure that you have everything ready for the birthing.
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For a whelping box I use a children's blow up paddling pool that has a plastic floor and soft blown-up sides.
It is an easy thing to clean being plastic and as long as the sides don't get punctured by the puppies, as they are growing, it can be used time & time again.
I setup a heat lamp above the whelping box and to one side so that the bitch can feed on one side of the box without being directly under the lamp.
Other things include, plenty of newspaper, towels, detergent, pair of sharp scissors, bucket, paper towels, new wipe clothes and a bowl of fresh water for the bitch. A wall mounted thermometer is also handy so one can keep an eye on the room's temperature and in winter I have a gas heater ready in the same room.
For convenience I now use my own bedroom for the maternity room as it is a warmer room and before and after birth it is easier to monitor the bitch and then the puppies.
The room is kept free of my other dogs from the time the bitch starts to go into labor and till the puppies are about 4 weeks old.
I find that the bitch prefers to have my company from the start of labor through to delivery of the last pup so one sets themselves up for the long haul and only leaves the bitch for short duration's such as getting another cuppa.
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The first stage of labor is dilation of the cervix and certainly the longest stage.
I cover my bed with a few old blankets and towels and have her up on the bed where I can keep an eye on her as well as watch TV to pass the time.
She will likely pant continuously during this time, want to go out for a toilet now and then and have a drink of water.
After some hours (in most cases) her waters will break and after this the contractions will become closer and stronger. I find that the period of time, once again, can still be a long time before the first pup starts to appear.
It is not till then that I move the bitch to the whelping box that has plenty of newspapers in the bottom for her to scratch up and birth on.
The amniotic sack will appear and disappear several times as the first puppy is getting closer to the first light of day.
One thing to watch for during this time is a dark green discharge which can indicate that a placenta has come away and if the birth is not completed within a reasonable time then all the puppies in the womb are threatened.
It is likely a good time to contact your vet if this happens, so that he can be ready to do a C-section.
When a puppy has presented itself, you maybe able to assist the bitch by grabbing the puppy with a dry towel (as they are slippery) and on a contraction, pull the puppy free.
Once a puppy is out the first thing I do is quickly rip the birth sac away from the puppy's head and start working on the puppy to make sure it is breathing.
The bitch more often than not is lapping up the mess and eating the placenta.
Now here is a problem to consider, if you allow the bitch to eat the placenta and then later on she has difficulties and needs to be opened up to get the remaining puppies out, then you have a bitch with a rich, full stomach and a bad way to be, when put out under anaesthetic, as they are likely to throw up and possibly drown in their vomit.
Another aspect that I have occasionally noticed is the odd bitch after eating the first placenta has then turned to eat the puppy. It is likely a good move to take away the first couple of placenta and maybe allow her to eat the later ones. Eating of the placenta assists in bringing in the milk and is a natural thing for the bitch to do anyway.
Once the puppy is out and breathing then the cord can be cut if the bitch has not done so or if you are having problems getting the pup to draw its first breath then cut the cord and start rubbing the puppy with a rough towel and if the nose is blocked then the puppy can be swung between your open legs while supporting the puppy's head. If you have a syringe you can use it to clear throat and nose of mucus.
If the puppy cannot breath through its nose and is gasping for air through the mouth then the quickest solution is to place a little bit of Vicks on the puppy's nose. Usually within half an hour or so it should clear the nasal passages. I am told that if the puppy cannot breath through the nose it will likely die.
Possibly it cannot suckle and breathe at the same time.
Once the puppy is breathing ok, mum will likely give it a good licking and here it pays to stay with her to make sure that she does not eat the puppy or rip the puppy's stomach trying to remove what is left of the cord.
I normally take the puppy away and take the birth weight and record the time of birth, clean up the newspapers and place fresh paper down for the next delivery.
Next I like to get the pup onto a nipple and get it suckling. This can be difficult as the bitch usually wants to lick the pup and disturbs the process.
Once the puppy has suckled I feel that all is well and when the bitch starts contractions for the next delivery
I place the pup into a basket with a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel so its out of harms way while mum and me get to work delivering the next pup.
The time between births can vary a lot from 15 minuets to an hour or more.
If it goes 2 hours or so then one can start to get concerned. You can bring on contractions by 'feathering' the bitch which means inserting a finger into her and tickling the walls of the vagina as deeply as possible.
If you have a good vet he may have supplied you with Oxytocin which you inject into the leg muscle of the bitch to stimulate the uterus.
It should only be done, in my mind, when approved by your vet after talking to him by phone.
The advantage is that you don't have to take the bitch down to the Vet's surgery to get the injection done.
Sometimes the bitch will become so tired or have a pup that she cannot get into the birth canal and one needs to consult the vet with the bitch for an examination and a possible c-section.
From my own experience I have found that a natural birth of all the puppies to be far more satisfactory for the litter than having all or some pups delivered by C-section.
Remember also that during the whelping your bitch will get thirsty and offering her a bowl of fresh water every so often will be appreciated by her.
It is always difficult to know when all the puppies have been delivered but a time will obviously come when the bitch appears more settled and just wants to let the pups suckle while she dozes.
Once she reaches this state then I clean out the whelping box completely and place an old duvet in the box with old towels over the top of it, to be replaced every day with fresh towels.
So with all been well and the squeaks of new young lives, one can finally rest.
Even then I have woken a few hours later to find a litter of 5 had become a litter of 6.
Next I will talk about bringing up a litter and would suggest that if you are experiencing sometime, your first delivery, a good book such as "Understanding The Chinese Shar Pei" by Jo Ann Redditt would be well worthwhile as a guide to birthing and other aspects and possible problems.
BRINGING UP BABY PUPPY SHAR PEI
Once your litter is born then the next few weeks becomes a progressively busy time.
I use a plastic blow up kiddy's paddling pool that has a plastic bottom and sides that are inflated.
This keeps the litter in bounds and gives them a degree of protection if mum happens to lay on one of them when they are against the sides of the pool.
I place an old duvet to cover the bottom of the pool and then place old towels over this.
The towels are changed every day and sometimes twice a day.
The bitch will be discharging blood for several days afterwards so it does get a bit messy.
A 250 watt heat lamp is hung above the pool to give the puppies heat, 24 hours a day with the only exception to this being in a very hot summer when the room temperature is up over 25 degrees C.
For the first two weeks the puppies can not generate and regulate their body heat and during this time they are at risk from chills and diseases such as Herpes.
Place the heat lamp to one side so that the bitch is not directly under it and low enough so that the puppies are kept warm without cooking.
The lamp should be on a cord so that you can raise and lower it to adjust the amount of warmth supplied to the puppies.
Make sure that the puppies are not in any drafts either.
Warm puppies will spread themselves out over the whelping box, puppies that are cold will huddle together for body warmth.
I do my whelping in a bedroom which I share with the litter for the whole time.
For the first 24 hours the young puppies will squeak and cry often as they find their way around their new world. This is normal. After that, if a puppy is crying for any length of time, then the puppy has a problem.
Warm, well fed puppies do not cry unless they have a problem.
I have already recorded their birth weights and formed a way of identifying each puppy by sex and colouring.
The birth colour will change quiet a bit over the first week or so and unusual birth colours will usually mellow into the more normal colour patterns that we relate to the breed.
Each day I will weigh the puppies and record this information.
I feel this is a very important aspect as variations of weight can be an early warning of a problem.
Puppies that don't gain weight or lose weight are not feeding or not feeding sufficiently and they may need to be tube feed or if they are the runt of the litter they may need assistance to get a nipple in preference to the litter mates.
Puppies gain weight quickly, if all is well, and 50 to 100 grams a day is not uncommon.
The following day after whelping I will take all the puppies to my vet for a general check and if there are rear dew claws I will have these removed.
I do not worry about dew claws on the front feet but some breeders like these removed also in case of them being snagged later in life.
Birth weights are usually about 400 to 500 grams and within 7 days the weights are likely to be between 700 to 900 grams. Week 2 weighing 1100 to 1500 grams, week3; 1400 to 1900, week4; 2000 to 2600, week5, 3000 to 3800 and week6, 4000 plus.
The bitch is feeding them for the first two to three weeks but often when the puppies start to get their needle sharp teeth, mum becomes more and more reluctant to suckle the pups and some bitches will stop at about the two week point.
I believe it is important that the bitch gets an excellent, varied diet and plenty of it while she is suckling.
There is nothing worse than having crying baby pups, hungry because mum has run out of milk.
Mum also likes to have lots of attention at this time and loves to be hand feed, morsels of food, at each meal time. I usually am feeding her about 4 times a day, 6 hours apart. Her diet will be the likes of chicken, meat, scrambled eggs, liver, kidneys, wheetbix, fish, milk and Anlamb (a rich milk supplement that I make up with raw eggs.)
I believe that a good varied diet to the bitch will produce all the needs for the growing puppies in the milk that they are taking in from mum.
A point of interest, in one of my last litters when the puppies were about 10 days old, I gave the bitch a meal of Pal Canned dog food. Next day all the puppies had the trots. Before that they had been producing nice firm stools. After a day and back to my better diet, everything came right.
(Sorry about that Pal)
Though for ease and convenience and something different, I do give my bitch an occasional meal of top quality dog rolls such as Pal Optimum and Butch Black Label.
I pity any bitch, and wonder at the overall health of the puppies when a brooding bitch is only given pet foods during their whelping time.
I have no proof of it, but suspect that the resulting puppies may not be as healthy or live as long as ones that have had a decent diet during this time.
At about 7 days old the puppies can start opening their eyes, but this is more likely to happed at about 10 to 14 days, with some as late as 3 to 4 weeks.
I start applying a human eye lubricant to all the puppies from about 7 days old.
This helps over come the need for tacking in many cases.
Puppies that don't have sufficient lubricant will likely have an abrasion effect happening to their eyes and this causes swelling, and then the puppies need to have their eyes tacked.
Sometimes a pup can have their eyes open nicely then a few days later, close down and require tacks to get things right again.
Some also never open naturally and once you notice that the pup is in discomfort then a tacking is required.
At two weeks the first worming is done and for this one I use the liquid worming solution from the Vets.
At 4 weeks old I give them worming tablets to their weight ratio.
At 2 weeks of age I start giving the puppies mashed up sardines or chicken that has been put through a fine strainer. The smell of the food is attractive to the pups and its not long before they are lapping it.
I have found that its an easy way to get them to lap as milk, puppy food and mashed up puppy biscuits or meal that is sold for baby puppies is not attractive to them and they will only eat it if they are really hungry.
This early feeding takes some pressure off the bitch and if she wants to wean the pups early then there is no great problem in maintaining constant good weight readings each day.
This means mum can do as she pleases and some will continue suckling the pups till about 4 weeks old then start weaning them off.
In the first few days after birth, the bitch will want to be with the puppies 24 hours a day and in some cases she may be reluctant to go out for a toilet and have to be encouraged to do so.
I take my dogs for a run every day and make sure that the bitch joins in this activity. I also take all my dogs out for a drive in the van every day while I am clearing my post office mail box etc.
These trips are usually for less than an hour and this also gives the bitch a break from her duties.
During the first week or so the bitch does not want any visitors to her room including other dogs.
The bitch needs to feel safe during this time and intrusions to her domain will only lead to stress.
As the days go by and the puppies growing really well, then she will relax her vigilance and slowly other dogs or people can be allowed in for short periods.
Initially puppies move around by crawling on their bellies. As they grow they will start to gain the use of their legs and here is an important aspect. The surface the puppies are moving on should not be smooth and one which they cannot get a grip on. The rough towels are ideal for this.
Once the puppies are walking around and eating reasonably well, I let down the sides of the paddling pool and with some 10 inch wide, lengths of wood, make them a larger area where newspapers can be laid so that the puppies can be fed on the paper and have their toilets.
The wood keeps them confined to their area but I have often found that the odd, more advanced pup will clamber over this barricade and have their toilets out in area beyond. They usually cry afterwards to be put back into their nest.
One litter I had, produced a puppy that would not only climb out but had the ability to climb back in. Quiet remarkable for a puppy not 4 weeks old. Some puppies are more advanced than the rest and have been amused when a puppy about 18 days old yaps at a stranger that has entered the room.
At 4 weeks old I start to take the litter outside onto the lawn for their toilets.
They seem to enjoy this if the weather is mild and once on the grass they soon know what to do and start toileting. Don't be in a hurry to do this if the weather is too hot or too cold. They don't like damp grass either and I have an adjacent area that is in bark and is drier and often the pups will opt for this area if the grass is damp. The puppies are initially carried out and then carried back in after about 10 minuets or so.
They will not only toilet, met the adult dogs but also start to explore a bit.
Within no time the pups are going to follow you outside by you calling them. I always call them 'puppy' in a higher than my normal voice, when attracting their attention such as feed times.
They soon learn to follow this call. Steps, gradients (I have a ramp) will deter them to start with but the more adventurous will soon overcome these obstacles.
At about 5 to 6 weeks one finds that the puppies will be starting to take run of the whole house, going outside for toilets on their own (if the door is open) and mixing with the adult dogs.
I find that the mother keeps a distant eye on the pups, often running off if they try to suckle her and generally having far less to do with them than my other adult dogs.
Pups in my case have 4 auntie's and a couple of uncles and most of the aunt's seem to enjoy playing and licking the pups. I have heard breeders say that this time, that the pups spend with their mother in learning social skills etc is rubbish. Mum is usually gone like a shot when the pups appear and only a minute or two will be spent with them once or twice a day.
At 6 weeks old the pups have their first vaccination and their third worming. Another 5 to 7 days are spent at home before their new owners pick up their babies and the pups start a new life in another world.
At 6 to 7 weeks the puppies are wanting to bond with their human companions and seeing that my puppies are eating with my adult dogs, toileting themselves and even attacking my adult dogs in their play, they are more than ready for their new family.
Maybe this does not apply with some breeders who do not have the diet, atmosphere and the way of bringing up puppies as I have in my procedures and as a result the pups are not mature enough to go to their new homes till they are older.
Another thing, once pups start moving around they will start fighting with each other and sometimes a screaming pup has to be rescued from a bully in the litter.
They have very sharp teeth and claws with which they can hurt each other.
If you have two litters on the ground with one litter being a week or two older, then when you allow the litters to mix you need to be aware that the bigger pups can really hurt the smaller ones.
Generally they all get on reasonably well.
This ends my whelping experiences.
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